Human Dimension: Environmental Impacts

Mapping the Atmosphere

A map can represent data from an area on a flat surface. The part of our Earth system most frequently mapped is the atmosphere. Weather—the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time—needs constant monitoring because it perpetually changes as weather systems evolve and move.

Awareness of what the weather is and is likely to be has numerous benefits. Weather can be hazardous, causing injuries, death, and loss of property. Weather maps are valuable analytical tools for informing people about current or future conditions.

Measuring Glacial Retreat

The USGS has been studying glaciers in Glacier National Park since 1850. It is estimated that there were 150 glaciers in the park back then, and when the national park was established in 1910. Today only 25 glaciers remain.

 Scientists go back every year to repeat photographs, as well as to examine the ice and the ecology of the landscape to see how glacial retreat is affecting plant and animal species that live there.

Modeling Oil and Gas Reservoirs

This activity will help you to understand some of the factors that petroleum geologists need to consider when deciding where to recommend drilling for oil. Since people use petroleum products for energy and as source materials for petrochemicals, it is important as citizen scientists to understand the science and technology behind the search for oil and natural gas.

Mystery Mollusc

Pretend to be a biologist as you 'discover' a new mollusc species and work to determine it's characteristics and habitat.

Parks Past, Present, and Future

Over Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history, tectonic upheavals and colliding plates formed mountain ranges and carved out basins. Forces of erosion and weathering have been at work to break down these landforms. Records of these processes are imprinted on the land and define distinctive landscapes around the United States and in its national parks.

Plant an Ozone Monitoring Garden

Students can monitor local ozone by looking in their neighborhoods for ozone-injured plants or establishing similar gardens outside their schools or in their backyards.

Reclaiming a Mine Site

Mined land is reclaimed for future use. The objective of this activity is to investigate how plants will grow on a reclaimed landscape. Over a period of days, you will learn how overburden is incorporated into the landscape after it has been removed during the mining process.Before beginning, discuss vocabulary terms: overburden, stockpile, grading, soil types, seeding, stability, seed germination, nutrients, closure planning, and reclamation.

Sea Level and the Terrapin

This activity from the Environmental Protection Agency will give children the opportunity to see how changes in sea level effect coastlines, animal life, and community development.

Soil, the Forgotten Resource

Soil is often overlooked as a natural resource. Like fossil fuels, we depend on it for energy in the form of foods. And, like fossil fuels, it is nonrenewable. Soil is a delicate balance of inorganic minerals, organic matter, living organisms, soil water, and soil atmosphere. The natural development of soil is an exceedingly slow process. In a few hours, a heavy rain falling on exposed soil can remove inches of what took hundreds of years to form. Here is a simple exercise that will allow you to compare the rates and amounts of erosion that result from various land uses.

The EarthTrek Gravestone Project

The Gravestone Project, part of the global citizen science program called EarthTrek (www.goearthtrek.com), is seeking volunteers to visit cemeteries around the world and collect scientific data on how marble gravestones are weathering.

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